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Transcript of Dr Jhon Hewson MP Interview on 'AM' ABC radio Canberra



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Leader of the Opposition

7 August 1991 REF: TRANSCR\0235\BQ

TRANSCRIPT OF DR JOHN HEWSON, HP INTERVIEW ON 'AM' ABC RADIO, CANBERRA

E & 0 E - PROOF COPY ONLY

SUBJECTS: Political advertising ban, disclosure, unemployment, Democrats

Thompson:

Well if there is confusion in the Democrats about whether to back the Government's compromise, the Codlition is adamant, of course the Opposition wants no restrictions on political advertising. We have been joined now in our Canberra studio by the Opposition

Leader, John Hewson. Dr Hewson is talking to our chief political correspondent, Maxine McKew.

McKew:

Dr Hewson why won't you back the Government's proposed compromise on this, just for a ban, just for the campaign period?

Hewson:

Well there can be absolutely no compromise, it is not an issue that you compromise, free speech is not an issue that can be compromised. As far as we are concerned it is Alice in

Wonderland stuff to advocate a ban just during an election campaign when you most expect political parties to do their advertising and yet leave the Government with all the time between election campaigns to use public money to fund their own

advertising. So as far as we are concerned for a lot of reasons it should be scrapped and they should introduce a separate bill in relation to disclosure and we will help them draft it if they need some help.

McKew:

Wouldn't a ban suit you though, you wouldn't have to deal with the Labor Party running negative ads on the consumption tax?

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 277 4022 COMMONWEALTH P A R L IA M E N T A R Y LIBRARY MICAH

REF: TRANSCR\0235\BQ 2 .

Hewson:

Free speech is well above anything that we would see as a short term political advantage one way or the other. As far as I am concerned you don't compromise on that issue and we will take our chances with the ALP and negative campaigning.

McKew:

The Labor Party says there is nothing free about this free

speech, campaign costs are running out of sight.

Hewson:

Well campaign costs sure are very expensive and it's always a question of individual party management, if you can't run your own budget and contain your costs and fund that properly, as the

ALP hasn't done in the past, that is their problem. We have run a right ship, we would continue to do that in the future, we

would restrain our spending in line with what we can raise. We strongly support being able to express our views as do most Australians.

McKew:

Now when the Senate meets next week, will you be putting up some compromised proposals of your own?

Hewson:

Well at this stage we want to see what the Government does. We have fought very strongly to split the bill and we said we would never support the ad ban bill in any form because there can be no compromise. But the disclosure part of the bill we think is very important, we would like to see the Government address that

issue quite seriously and as I say if they want some help in

drafting it we have done some work on it and we would be more

than happy to make sure that it is a bill that is fair and

equitable between all the parties.

McKew:

Do you think it is inevitable that the Government will be forced to split the bills?

REF: TRANSCR\0235\BQ 3.

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Hewson:

Well I hope so, I hope they see rationality in this, what a

nonsensical back down that we saw yesterday and look it is a real test now for the Democrats. The Democrats have stood on the platform that they 'would keep the bastards honest', now let's see whether they are themselves honest, whether they can stand

up for what is a basic right in this country. They have

demonstrated in the past, of course, they say they can't be bought. We have taken the view that they can be rented by the hour and this is another case of that and I think the Democrats are in turmoil but they should step back and take a genuine stand

in an area where they claim to represent the best interests of the people of Australia.

McKew:

And if we see a separate bill just requiring full disclosure of political funding your Party won't back away from that, there will be support?

Hewson:

No absolutely not, we are 100% behind the idea of full and

equitable disclosure, that's a very important statement and that if you want to make sure that all parties in a similar position under that bill, that there aren't advantages for say tax

deductible donations from the unions or any scope for

intimidation and that sort of thing. So we would want very

strong penalties in relation to potential intimidation, but if it is fair and equitable between the parties we will support i t .

McKew:

Do you think you might be disadvantaged by this, with full

disclosure the source of funding, the source of a lot of funding will dry up?

Hews on:

Well, people say that about the business community, they say for example the business community won't fund political parties if they have to disclose the donations. Well I think that will be a real test for the business community, it sounds to me like a bit of a cop out. It is about time the business community and everyone else in this country stood up for what they believed in

and look I think if the business community looks at it

objectively, if they like our policies they ought to be prepared to fund us and do it publicly, equally for anybody else who feels very strongly about the political process or any issue in it.

REF: TRANSCR\0235\BQ 4.

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McKew:

Dr Hewson on the economic front, no doubt you appreciate the irony at the moment of a Labor government sounding like a

conservative one when it talks of the paramount importance of fighting inflation, while at the same time tolerating a 10% level of unemployment?

Hewson:

Well I think that the big issue, if you like, political issue that is yet to have its true significance recognised is

unemployment and job security. People are very concerned right now, not just at the level of unemployment but the fact that if they lose their job they may not get it back and I think that

will be the dominate issue of the next election campaign and we will be judged and the Government will be judged by our capacity to put together a set of policies that will bring unemployment down and keep it down. As far as we are concerned it is very

important that this Budget passes the test, it has got to provide a launch pad for a sustainable recovery of jobs in this country.

McKew:

But as John Dawkins said on 'AM' yesterday, the pattern has been the same in Europe, Governments have been re-elected with a very high level of unemployment because there is now a greater

tolerance for that.

Hewson: '

I think the worker in Australia has had enough, the average income earner, the PAYE tax payer has been hit to leg, their real wages have been cut and now their jobs are at risk and they will demand of both our parties a clear cut set of policies, a clear cut agenda to restore the strength to the Australian economy and give them sustainable jobs.

McKew:

Dr Hewson thanks very much indeed.

Hewson:

Thank you Maxine.

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For further information contact Tony Abbott on 06 - 277 4022.